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The Childhood Pleasure of the Book Nook

Even as an adult, I relish a great place to read. I have been saying for years that one day, I will have a house with a window seat. As we are still in the condo years, that dream has not yet come to fruition, but it will. The Random House Blog has a post up about the best book nooks for kids. There are some really great selections there (two pictured below), and they were great to look at. I love it when a library, or parent, or bookshop makes a special effort to include a good place to read.

But there is something about childhood specifically that longs for cozy nooks and special corners to curl into, and that’s what struck me while scrolling through the different book nook pictures – it filled me with warm-fuzzy nostalgia immediately. Maybe it’s the small stature involved with being a child, so that slithering into small spaces is inviting. Maybe it’s that as children we have little freedom or control over our own circumstances, so the desire to have a place just for us, even if only temporarily, feels extra special and appealing. Whatever it is, I remember so clearly the pleasure I took in nooks, crannies, corners and small spaces. I would of course run rampant and shrieking with twigs in my hair, chasing after balls and dogs and boys and all the rest, but I’ve always been someone who craved alone time, with a book, and as a kid I would often find the most small and secret place I could.

When I was four, my older sister was forever exasperated at me for playing (and yes, reading) in her closet. I loved building forts and sequestering myself in a small cell of sofa cushions and blankets. And the library of my elementary school was carpeted and comfortable, but too open – I would often take books and read them sitting on the radiator under the staircase – it was small there, and deliciously warm (especially in winter), and if I tucked my feet up, I felt invisible. Watching the movie The Neverending Story for the first time, I understood Sebastian’s retreat away from his classes and into the book, and envied him his attic space. And I recall, even at a very young age, thinking what a fantastic title it was when I first heard of Peter S. Beagle’s book A Fine and Private Place. To be honest, I don’t even know what that book is about. But it sounds like somewhere I could read without anybody bugging me.

As an adult, time to read and a private place to do it become rare luxuries, and the distractions of life seem forever to be banging at the window, demanding attention. But as a child, I was able to give myself completely to a book, often for hours, and there was nothing better than the perfect place to do it.

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